Four Idols is the first full studio album by Austin Franklin. It is inspired by Francis Bacon’s philosophy of the four idols of the mind, which are errors of thinking and judgement caused by flawed reasoning, philosophical bias, ill and unfit words, and personal experiences.
These ideas are explored throughout the album thematically, such as in The Witch Hunt, which references the Mass Witch Trials in early modern Europe and Bacon's Idols of the Tribe, as well as musically using live electronics and digital instruments. In Mirage, the Idol of the Cave is represented using the feedback between a microphone and a speaker, controlled with four push/pull solenoids to represent the self-referential nature of these idols. Reconstruct grapples with the Idols of the Theater, which are due to sophistry and false learning. These idols are built within the fields of science, theology, and philosophy, and according to Bacon must be dismantled and replaced. There is a musical metaphor in which the sounds of three crystal glasses are recorded, deconstructed, changed, and then reassembled in continuously to create changing textures and rhythms.
Each piece was created using a unique set of instruments, controllers, and digital signal processing techniques. Many familiar instruments are used, such as crystal glasses, cymbals, synthesizers, a cajon, and disklavier. It draws influence from multiple electronic music genres, such as ambient and drone based music, glitch and noise music. Four Idols synthesizes these musical and philosophical ideas and creates a unifying musical language that centers between improvisation and process, rhythm and texture, and noise and beauty.